U.K. to ban sale of new gas, diesel and hybrid cars

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By Rachel Elbaum and Reuters  with NBC News World News
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson sits with British broadcaster and conservationist David Attenborough during an event to launch the United Nations' Climate Change conference, COP26 on Tuesday.   -  Copyright  Chris J Ratcliffe

LONDON — Britain will ban the sale of new gas, diesel and hybrid vehicles from 2035, five years earlier than planned, in an attempt to reduce air pollution and fossil fuel emissions, the government announced on Tuesday.

Britain's step amounts to a victory for electric cars that if copied globally could hit the wealth of oil producers, as well as transform the car industry and one of the icons of 20th Century capitalism: the automobile itself.

The U.K. isn't alone in its efforts. More than a dozen countries around the world have announced plans to crack down on new sales of gas and diesel vehicles in the next decade or two. France plans to ban the sale of fossil fuel-powered cars by 2040 and Norway's Parliament has set a non-binding goal that by 2025 all cars should be zero emissions.

In addition to bringing forward to the date of the ban on new sales of gas and diesel vehicles, the government also included hybrid vehicles in the ban for the first time. It said that it would bring forward the date even closer if it is possible.

Last year, the U.K. pledged to cut its greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050, one of the most ambitious targets of any leading economy. The ban on sales of new gas and diesel vehicles fits into that goal.

"We know as a country, as a society, as a planet, as a species, we must now act," said Prime Minister Boris Johnson at a launch even for a U.N. Climate Change Conference planned for November in Glasgow, Scotland, known as COP26.

According to experts, the targets of countries to ban sales of new gas and diesel vehicles won't be effective without accompanying action.

"Those targets need to be complemented by whole range of measures at the national and regional level, such as informing consumers about the vehicles on offer or building of the necessary charging infrastructure," said Peter Mock, managing director of the International Council on Clean Transportation in Europe.

In Britain, diesel and gasoline models still account for most new vehicle registrations in Britain. However, registrations of electric vehicles rose 144 percent between 2018 and 2019, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.